There's plenty to know about indoor safety. Because natural gas is lighter than air, it becomes combustible when mixed with air and exposed to an ignition source. That is why we add an odorant that smells like sulfur or rotten eggs so you'll know right away if there's a problem in or around your home or business.
If you smell or hear natural gas
Colorless, odorless and lighter than air, natural gas becomes combustible when mixed with air and exposed to an ignition source. That's why we add an odorant that smells like rotten eggs so you'll know right away if there's a problem.
In case of a leak, here's what you and your family should know. Besides the smell, the signs of a natural gas leak may include:
- Blowing or hissing sounds.
- Dust blowing from a hole in the ground.
- Continuous bubbling in wet or flooded areas.
- Dead or discolored vegetation in an otherwise green area.
If you smell or hear gas in your home or business, follow these steps:
- Don't smoke, light matches, turn electrical switches on or off, use the telephone or do anything else that might create a spark.
- Evacuate everyone from the area, and keep others away.
- Call 911 and Avista at (800) 227-9187 from a neighbor's phone.
- Don't go back inside your home or building until Avista says it is safe.
Carbon monoxide gas
Natural gas, while not poisonous itself, will - like other fuels - produce poisonous carbon monoxide gas when burned improperly by malfunctioning equipment. Early signs of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to the flu, including dizziness, fatigue, nausea and heart palpitations.
If you suspect someone is suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning, get the person into fresh air, seek medical attention immediately, call 911 then call Avista at (800) 227-9187.
Consider getting a carbon monoxide detector. They are available at most home retail outlets and will give you an added sense of security. Make sure you follow the manufacturer's instructions when placing the detector in your home.
To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning and stay safe, follow these guidelines:
- Get advice from a licensed professional on the proper care of all your natural gas equipment.
- Hire a licensed professional to inspect your natural gas system(s) annually for proper operation and safe venting.
- Clean or replace your heating system's filters (if it has them) according to the manufacturer's recommendations.
Natural gas safety tips
To help prevent accidents in your home and to keep all your family members safe, follow these general tips:
- Keep the area around your furnace and water heater clean and free from litter.
- Never store combustible liquids and materials near gas appliances.
- Teach children to stay away from the gas range and all gas-burning appliances.
- Keep ranges and ovens clean to avoid grease fires.
- Never use the oven or range to heat a room.
- Never let children swing from gas pipes.
Although new, high-efficiency natural gas furnaces do not have pilot lights, many older natural gas appliances use pilot lights that stay on all the time. On these appliances, if the pilot light goes out, an automatic shut-off valve activates and the appliance should shut off safely. However, gas range-top burners are not equipped with a safety shut-off. If you smell gas around any appliance, or if the appliance will not light, call Avista at (800) 227-9187 so a service representative can come and check your appliance.
In an emergency
You should know how to shut off your home's natural gas service in an emergency or natural disaster, like an earthquake or flood.
First, locate the shut-off valve on the pipe near the gas meter. Then, use a large wrench to give the valve a quarter turn in either direction. When the valve runs crossways to the pipe, the line is closed. Only turn off your gas if you smell or hear natural gas leaking, or if your residence sustained major damage. In a major emergency, Avista will implement our emergency plan to ensure the safety of the affected area - which may cause delays in restoring service.
To help minimize potential damage, take the following simple precautions:
- Secure your natural gas water heater to a wall so it won't fall over.
- Store all flammable materials away from natural gas appliances. After a disaster, check to be sure nothing flammable has fallen or spilled near natural gas appliances.
- If you detect a strong natural gas odor or hear a strong hiss of leaking gas, follow the instructions above to shut off your gas.
- Once the gas has been shut off, do not turn it back on. Call Avista at (800) 227-9187 for assistance.